Pure aural magic

One of my favourite composers is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, simply because no one builds up to an explosive crescendo quite like the Russian whose classics include the popular 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

But not many people know him for the Capriccio Italien, which ranks as one of my favourite pieces of music because there are times when the violins are so soft they are barely audible, but there are also moments when the percussion is so powerful that it usually gives me goosebumps.

Audi’s first attempt at a supercar — the R8 — is much like Capriccio Italien: there are moments when the V8 engine whispers sweet nothings in your ears, but when you let the revs climb into the red zone, it explodes into pure aural magic.

At the launch in Cape Town, it was exceedingly difficult not to push the R8 into the red zone because the mid-engined vehicle develops such an astonishing amount of power that I had to ensure I had enough room to unleash it.

Audi South Africa views the R8 as a brand ambassador and, although the R1,28-million vehicle is sold out well into 2010, the company thought it important enough to show off its flagship to the public. I’m glad it did because the Audi R8 is a truly special car.

As with any supercar, the R8 sits very close to the tar so going over speed bumps and such was tricky, as was getting the hang of the heavy clutch attached to the six-speed manual gearbox, which has an open-gate gear shifter.

But once you master the clutch and the gear shifter, all you want is an open road with a few twisty bits and when you find those open stretches the R8 is almost scary in how perfectly dynamic it is.

Powered by a 4,2-litre V8 engine which produces a whopping 309kW of power and 430Nm of torque, the R8 rockets from 0-100kph in 4,6s.

Of course, it comes equipped with all the safety features we’ve come to expect from Audi such as ABS, EBD, traction control and tons more. And, if you really want to be swish, you can pay R25 000 for R8 luggage that will be tailor-made to match the car’s upholstery.

After spending time with Audi’s beautiful new supercar, I’m pretty sure it will quickly find itself among that small league of cars that people dream of owning.

It’s all done with mirrors

So enamoured was Audi with the design of the R8 that it asked style guru and fashion demigod Karl Lagerfeld to photograph the car for a calendar that will be available only to R8 buyers.

The calendar, titled Kaleidoscopic Vision of a Car, features black-and-white photographs shot near Saint-Tropez in the south of France. One of the nicest aspects of this calendar is that it doesn’t feature a single anorexic bonnet strumpet, with whom manufacturers love to adorn their vehicles.

Instead, the guy at the wheel is in-demand male model Brad Kroenig, whom Lagerfeld has been photographing for five years for his long-term study One Man Shown.

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